Mini Savory Cheesecakes

Mini Savory  Bleu Cheesecake on baby spinach with cherries and walnuts

Mini Savory Bleu Cheesecake on baby spinach with cherries and walnuts

Jacques Pepin is one of my favorite “teaching chefs”.  I have learned so much from watching his various shows.  For example, you should peel broccoli stalks and eat them, because they are the most delicious part of the broccoli.  Uh, yes they are, and who knew?  Jacques, that’s who.  I am currently enjoying Jacques’ “More Fast Food My Way” program on PBS, and recently picked up the companion cookbook.  I highly recommend this cookbook!  If you like watching Jacques, the book is written just like he talks – straightforward, conversational, easy to follow (minus his charming accent).  Most of the recipes are photographed, and all are pretty simple to execute with basic ingredients you likely already have on hand or could quickly source at a regular market.  Since the recipes are “quick cooking” the hubby and I are having fun cooking from it together when he gets home from work.  It sort of occurred to me that if I died he wouldn’t be able to feed himself, so we’ve been cooking together more!  : )

The first recipe I tried from this cookbook was the one for Mini Savory Cheesecakes, and they were sublime.  I love to cook, and I am highly critical of my own cooking.  Not in a mean way, I’m just forever asking “how could this be better?  Is this out of balance?” etc.  If something doesn’t score a 95 or above in my head, it doesn’t get made again.  Too many cookbooks, too many recipes, too many ideas – I don’t have time for losers! : )  So, it’s pretty rare that I tuck into something and think, “oh myyyy, spot on!” and just revel in it.  These little beauties were just such a dish.  Need more proof?  My man does NOT like bleu cheese, and he thought these were the bomb, bleu cheese and all!

Jacques always encourages you to make his recipes your own by tweaking here and there to suit your preferences or what you have on hand, which is what I did.  I made a few changes to method, ingredients, and the type of salad served with, but this is basically his dish, and you can see the original recipe online here.  I should say that “cheesecake” is not a perfect name for these little beauties.  The texture is somewhere between a quiche, a frittata and a cheesecake, but not exactly like any of them.  We love them so much that I will be making them often for quick suppers and experimenting with different cheeses and add-ins, like Gruyere with bacon and onions or Havarti with sautéed apples and onions, or Pepper Jack with green chiles…..  The recipe makes 6 small (½ cup ramekins) cheesecakes.  One is perfect for an appetizer/salad course, and 2 make a generous entree.  These are amazing served warm, but they could also be made ahead for entertaining and served cold. Tip:  be sure to use a very mild tasting bleu cheese, as melting bleu cheese really releases the flavor bomb and could overwhelm the dish.  Enjoy!

  • ½ cup panko
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup sour cream, Greek yogurt or Kefir cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. finely minced shallot
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley (optional)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup crumbled Gorgonzola, plus 6 ½” chunks

Preheat oven to 350. Spray six ½ cup ovenproof ramekins with non stick spray (I like Trader Joe’s Coconut Oil Spray or Everbake). Divide panko among the molds and distribute crumbs evenly over bottoms and up a bit of the sides. 
 Whisk together cream cheese, sour cream, salt, pepper, shallot and half the parsley. Whisk in the eggs and gently stir in the bleu cheese crumbles. Divide batter among the ramekins, place chunks of cheese on top, and sprinkle on the remaining parsley. Arrange cheesecakes on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes. Check them at 15 mins -the cheesecakes should be slightly soft in the center (not wet). Don’t bake them till they are totally firm, or they will be dry.  Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool.  Immediately run a knife around the edges of the cheesecakes to loosen them from the ramekins.  Let cool for 10 minutes before unmolding. Serve on a tossed green salad – preferably something that “lies flat” like baby lettuces or spinach.

 

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Comments

  • Judy Kemp  On January 29, 2015 at 9:31 PM

    Oh my I am stuffed from dinner and now I’m drooling over your cheesecakes oh my goodness that looks delicious thank you thank you thank you for all your recipes I made your Greek salad yesterday took half of it over to Robin Clymer and the other half is almost gone now. Very very good thank you Elizabeth. Where do you find sumac? J

    Sent from my iPhone ~ Judy

    >

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    • E H Whitesides  On January 29, 2015 at 10:30 PM

      So glad you enjoyed it! : ) In the Raleigh area you can find sumac at Sasool or its sister restaurant/market Neomonde. Elsewhere you should be able to find it at any Middle Eastern market.

      Like

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